Stealing ARVs for whoonga 'is murder'
Johannesburg - Stealing antiretrovirals (ARVs) is murder, the National Association of People Living with HIV and Aids (Napwa) said on Wednesday.
"The lives of many people who are HIV positive depend on ARVs. Therefore those people who are selling ARVs... for recreational use are killing innocent people," Napwa secretary general Nkululeko Nxesi said.
His comments follow the arrest of Moses Dladla, 41, and Johannes Mahlangu, 44, in Olifantsfontein last Thursday.
They appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Monday after allegedly being found with stolen ARVs worth R200 000.
Dladla and Mahlangu implicated a third man, 48-year-old Busami Chauke, who was initially arrested for possession of dagga in Norkem Park, but later implicated in the ARV case.
They were found in possession of Viread (an ARV drug) and two plastic bags each carrying about 20 batches of ARVs. Their arrest was the result of a tip-off from a member of the public.
Police believed the men stole the ARVs to make an illegal drug known as "whoonga", a concoction of Stocrin (an ARV drug), dagga, sore throat medication Strepsils and rat poison.
The case was postponed to March 25 for further investigation. They face charges of possession of stolen property.
Nxesi called for better security in the public health system.
The Treatment Action Campaign on Monday said people who stole antiretrovirals were "very cruel".
"Stealing them is robbing people of their right to health care and life," spokesperson Caroline Nenguke said.